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On Dog Trainers and the Banning of Birds as Pets

First, I thought it would be easy to find a dog trainer for a friend in Dallas, but alas . . . AND, I don't even think he needs a trainer. What do you think?

He adopted a dog from a shelter (which was huge as he comes from pure breed culture) and promptly fell in love with her. Several months later, the holidays came around and he boarded her for, I'm guessing, two weeks. When he picked her up she was suddenly not house trained and was peeing all over the place. He is devastated, as he wants her to sleep in his bed, but she'll pee.

Clearly, the stay in the kennel was traumatizing for her, and she could also very well now have a legitimate medical problem, which I did suggest. So what about a trainer? Is that what she needs? And if so, does anyone personally know of one who, unlike my first trainer, won't come to your house and suggest a shock collar as his first strategy?

Next, you may recall I've been inexplicably signed up for some kind of bird list/forum. Now, I know close to nothing about birds (as opposed to water fowl, whom I know far too much about), and I certainly will never understand why you'd think it's a good idea to put one in a cage in your house, unless perhaps she couldn't fly. And that's assuming the reason she can't fly is not that you've chosen to make her unable to fly.

In fact, when I go to a home that has a bird in it, I have a visceral reaction. When I went to a wedding on my husband's side once, I entered a house where the first thing you see is a giant cage with one or two birds in it, and apparently I had a look of horror on my face, which evidently could be rude to my host and I was asked to "tone it down." I think "I'll tone it down when the bird is free" was my response.

But back to banning birds as pets. I received this update from the New York Bird Club:

The New York Bird Club rallies for a law to be passed that would ban the sale of birds being kept as pets in the USA, as birds are being kept in cages too small to fly in for the majority of their lives, which in some cases is close to 100 years. It also contributes to the import of illegal bird types. Keeping birds is unnecessary and cruel. At the very least that regulations be placed on cage sizes, number of birds per cage, or even licences to keep birds as pets. It seems to me to be far too easy for any one to buy a bird from a pet shop with no knowledge of bird welfare and no questions asked of that person about where the bird will be kept, etc. If we can at least get our government to debate this subject, I do hope that some positive actions may be brought forward.

If you are an activist that is interested in establishing avian legislation, I encourage you to write back with the goal of banning the sale of birds or at the very least creating laws that will protect caged and petshop birds from abuse and neglect.  Potential bird guardians should be required to get a license and register a bird which would entail mandatory avian education before they bring the bird home so they can properly take care of him. There is a need for avian legislation at this time, as other than requiring that the bird have food and water, few laws exist. Licenses, registration and education requirements can work well for cats, dogs and other captive animals as well.

Thank you, and I look forward to your feedback.
Anna Dove

I think I know what some of you are thinking: the banning of the birds is because the cages are too small, and then there's that sentence that begins, "At the very least that regulations should be placed om cage sizes . . . " Hmm. Sounds familiar . . . For those of you who don't understand how an abolitionist can become a welfarist, that says it all. When you know that your real goal isn't coming anytime soon, and you feel you have to do something ("at the very least"), it's very easy to propose, well something that has a chance of being passed.

You can comment or vote on the original post here, and of course you can always comment here, and don't forget about the dog trainer recommendation. (Or maybe your experience–perhaps a trainer isn't necessary.)


9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roger #

    Mary – please allow me to try to deconstruct what you said 🙂

    You say, "For those of you who don't understand how an abolitionist can become a welfarist, that says it all. When you know that your real goal isn't coming anytime soon, and you feel you have to do something ("at the very least"), it's very easy to propose, well something that has a chance of being passed."

    Does this follow? The 'real goal' far away – but how close is this goal? Dove (can't be her real name, right?) writes, "If we can at least get our government to debate this subject, I do hope that some positive actions may be brought forward." How long will it take to get a government to debate this issue? And when/if it does, what then?

    In Britain there has been a recent hunting "ban" – took at least 50 years and much government debate. More foxes are being killed now than before, the law is full of loopholes and the Tories say they will repeal it if elected.

    So I'm not sure things are as clear cut as you imply. Is it simply a question of signing some petition that has originated (where?), or is the idea to divert attention and monies away from the 'real goal' in order to achieve this one?

    I think anyone needs to think good and hard before taking their eyes off their real goals.


    January 10, 2009
  2. Sorry, can't help on the dog therapy… Except to suggest the usual – to make sure the dog urinates before bedtime and no fluids prior to sleeping. Whenever I've kenneled my dog – I always felt I was picking up a different being… It takes weeks for him to return to his old self – Maybe given time (and patience) it will work itself out?

    On the birds – I know you're familiar with the monk parrots here in Florida. They are lovely creatures to watch in their natural world. Many are found in nearby lakes as they are wild. However, there are a few people here in my town that actually trap them, keep them captive and sell them to be put in even smaller cages (alone). This is awful isn't it? I've been told by the local authorities that there's no law against it as these birds are considered "nuisance" pests because of their nesting habits, and aren't protected by any wildlife laws at all. It's always so sad to see birds in cages… especially the ones that have known freedom – it's prison, for sure.

    January 10, 2009
  3. Mary Martin #

    I was actually being facetious. It's easy to see how people who want to ban the use of animals then set out to spend their time and money on NOT doing that. They feel like it's "the very least" they can do. But I don't think that everyone necessarily puts the pieces together (I didn't, for years) and realizes the damage that will be done to the "real goal." I don't think any of this is simple or easy, other than abandoning your goal for something that seems doable. Does that help?

    January 10, 2009
  4. Roger #

    Hi Mary,

    I thought you may be – but the point you made is rehearsed by many an advocate. Just covering bases!!


    January 10, 2009
  5. Connie Graham #

    I'm a big fan of Victoria Stillwell who is on Animal Planet's "It's Me or the Dog." Don't let the title turn you away. Here's a link from her website to the website for the Assoc of Professional Dog Trainers: They have a search engine on their site. BTW in one episode, Victoria removed a shock collar, lectured the "owners" and threw the collar in the trash. She won't use standard choke chain collars, either.

    January 10, 2009
  6. Personally, I've found house training to be pretty easy for both our dogs. I don't know if we just got lucky or something, but the trick is simply to take your dog outside a million times a day. Seriously, tons of outdoor time. Give her plenty of opportunity to do her business outside. Praise when she does the right thing. If she has an accident, just ignore her and clean it up. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

    Like Connie, I like Victoria Stillwell, too 🙂
    And that says a lot because I think most people are incompetent. I really do. I think most people can't do their jobs, especially dog trainers. There's no standard, there are no laws, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and just set up shop. Many, if not most, are completely full of crap. They have no idea what they're doing.

    January 11, 2009
  7. loxylove #

    I'd bet the dog has a urinary tract infection…

    January 11, 2009
  8. Two of our dogs were puppy-ish when we adopted them, and couldn't yet hold it through the night. We worked it out by crating them – in the bedroom, and as close to the bed as possible (partly to assuage our own guilt, and also so they wouldn't feel too isolated from the humans and other dogs) – overnight, so they wouldn't have the opportunity to go in the bed. We set the alarm clock to go off every two hours or so, at which time the husband and I would take turns taking Dog X outside, even if all she did was dribble. Every little drop was rewarded with praise and treats.

    We'd do the same during the daytime: take the dog out every few hours, reward her for going outside, ignore accidents inside. If she was going to be left alone for more than a few hours, we'd either crate her or confine her to a smaller space, preferably a room without carpet.

    Some took longer than others, but it worked with all the dogs.

    Of course, there's also the possibility of a medical problem, as you said.

    January 11, 2009
  9. Annabel Cleary #

    Hi Mary, regarding the dog training. We have three rescue dogs, and we find that exactly the same thing happens when we put them in kennels. We have had them all for five eyars, and they are completely housetrained, but for a couple of weeks after kennels they pee all over the place. My thoughts are that that kennel situation is slightly stressful for them- no matter how good the kennels are- and also in the kennels they usually are required to pee in their small sleeping/run areas anyway. we find, without exception, after two weeks or so the peeing everywhere goes and they are back to being housetrained. We do NOT yell at them… we just firmly but gently remind them that they are to pee outside now, and it is fine.

    As a rescue dog she is going to be slightly insecure, and there will be memories and anxieties about going abck to kennels. Another option, which my parents did with their dogs is to do a series of short and overnight trips to the kennels before putting a dog in for a large slab of time. It gets them accustomed to the idea that you really ARE coming back. He just needs to be patient.

    Thanks, Anna

    January 13, 2009

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